Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., threatened Florida school districts earlier this month with having the State Board of Education withhold salaries if superintendents and school board members defy executive orders prohibiting officials from mandating children to wear face masks in public schools.
In a statement released to CBS Miami, DeSantis said his enforcement of “financial consequences for noncompliance of state law,” is a measure to defend “the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and healthcare decisions.”
Giving an example, DeSantis said “the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.”
He clarified that this penalty would only affect those who are employed in the bureaucratic division of public education, such as superintendents and school board members as they are the ones responsible for dictating rules and curriculum for schools.
DeSantis also said that he would rather see school funding go directly to students to improve the quality of instruction, rather than funding salaries of high-ranking officials within public school “systems.”
“Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems,” he continued. “The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.”
On July 30, DeSantis issued an order that prohibited mask and vaccine mandates as a condition of employment or entry to both public and private establishments.
Mask wearing and vaccines have remained mostly optional in the state of Florida since the almost the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and will remain optional as long as DeSantis’ executive order stands. Local health departments have confirmed that parents and legal guardians continue to reserve the right to opt their children out from having to wear face coverings in schools.